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Oyster Bay unanimously votes to seize private golf club by prominent estate

Oyster Bay City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to seize the private Peninsula Golf Club in East Massapequa as a prominent estate.

Using a prominent estate to expand the city’s park system creates potential legal challenges. City supervisor Joseph Saladino declined to be interviewed on Tuesday, but city councilor Steven Labriola said during the July 13 sentencing hearing that “we expect and do anticipate there will be litigation.” .

Arthur Feldman of Uniondale-based Farrell Fritz PC, attorney for the owner of the 50-acre golf course, PGC Holding Corp., declined to comment on Tuesday.

City officials described the government’s takeover of private enterprise as necessary to protect the land from development, even though it was protected from development for 75 years under a restrictive agreement with the county. of Nassau, and the potential buyer offered to make a deal with the city to make it a golf course. City officials have said the county may withdraw the pact in the future.

“It is important to preserve the open space in this city,” Saladino said at Tuesday’s meeting preceding the vote. “There are many environmental benefits to this. “

Richard Schaub Jr., director of Florida-based Great American Properties, said he intended to make investments in the golf course and had no plans to build homes on the property. The golf club’s board of directors agreed in March to sell the property to Schaub for the asking price of $ 4.4 million.

“I’m disappointed,” Schaub said in an interview after the 7-0 vote. He said he was disappointed that none of the city council members mentioned the August 10 letter he sent them indicating his intentions to preserve the golf course.

“Our intention was, where appropriate, to improve the golf course and make it a real showcase for the town of Oyster Bay.”

City officials have made conflicting statements about Schaub’s involvement in the talks.

“The city reached out to the buyer and asked if they would support our zoning this property from residential to park and they said no,” Saladino said Tuesday at the meeting.

“This is totally, 100% false,” Schaub said on Tuesday, adding that no one in town had ever contacted him or responded to his letter.

“If they have a way to strengthen this restrictive covenant, whether it’s rezoning or otherwise, we’d be happy to do that,” Schaub said.

In response to questions about the engagement with Schaub, city spokesman Brian Nevin wrote in an August 24 email that “the city cannot negotiate with parties that do not own the property. “.

Saladino also told the meeting that if Oyster Bay bought the nine-hole golf course for $ 4.4 million, it would get the course at “1970s prices.”

“It’s a phenomenal price when you think about the value of this land,” said Saladino.

The final price that taxpayers will pay for the property could take years of litigation to determine.

“The valuation of property in eminent domain holds is based on the court’s assessment of the highest and best use of a property (not necessarily the existing use),” Jennifer Polovetsky wrote. , a prominent domain lawyer at Sanchez & Polovetsky PLLC, based in New York. in an email. “Each party submits expert reports, and if there is a trial, each expert testifies and the court will eventually make a decision on the assessment based on that expert testimony.”